President Bush Signs Smallpox Vaccine Compensation Bill Into Law
President Bush yesterday signed into law a bill (HR 1770) that will provide compensation for health care workers and others who experience adverse effects from the smallpox vaccine, the AP/Nando Times reports (AP/Nando Times, 4/30). Under the legislation, passed by the House and Senate on April 11, individuals who receive the smallpox vaccine and become permanently disabled qualify for as much as $50,000 per year in lost wages with no cap on the amount of lifetime compensation. Individuals who receive the vaccine and become partially disabled qualify for as much as $50,000 per year in lost wages with a $262,100 lifetime cap. Spouses of individuals who receive the vaccine and die qualify for $262,100; spouses with children can receive a $262,100 lump sum or $50,000 per year until the youngest child reaches age 18 (California Healthline, 4/14). Lawmakers have allocated $42 million in initial financing for the compensation program. Individuals dissatisfied with their compensation can file suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Bush approved the compensation program to help "ease widespread concerns" about the health risks of the smallpox vaccine and increase participation in the national smallpox vaccination plan, Reuters reports (Reuters, 4/30). About 33,000 individuals had received the smallpox vaccine as of April 18; the Bush administration had hoped to vaccinate 500,000 health care workers by Feb. 24, one month after the national smallpox vaccination plan began (California Healthline, 4/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.